WE TRAIN RAIN OR SHINE
This past weekend Lone Star Global Rescue Development Network, LLC (“Lone Star Global”) instructors were at San Angelo F.D. teaching TEEX – Vehicle Rescue Technician Tech I class. The class consisted of 40 firefighters from San Angelo Fire Department and surrounding fire departments. This was Lone Star Global’s ribbon cutting class and the weather nearly put an early end to it. Saturday morning when the students were to transition from classroom instruction to hands-on outdoor instruction, rain and thunderstorms set in nearly cancelling the rest of class.
It was, however, evident from the students’ enthusiasm to get out and train that cancelling due to weather was not an option. Luckily, the rain and storms let up and training continued as planned. Don’t think for a second that standing water and ankle deep mud slowed them down – once training began it was as if the wet weather was never there.
GOOD MORNING DEFENSE
The morning started off with a focus on defensive operations that are essential throughout the duration of a vehicle rescue when extrication is involved. If sound defensive operations (stabilization) are not initiated, safe and effective offensive operations (extrication) cannot be performed. The students learned the importance of the four major components of strong defensive operations – Immobilze the vehicle, stabilize the vehicle, de-energize the vehicle and manage the glass and plastics.
AN EFFECTIVE AFTERNOON
In the afternoon, the students transitioned to more advanced situational-based stabilization and timed drills. The purpose for these drills was to see if the students could incorporate the morning defensive operations instruction into real life speed, while maintaining safety, efficiency and effectiveness. One of the drills emphasized by Lone Star Global’s instructors was the 2-2-2 drill – 2 firefighters setting up 2 stabilization struts on a vehicle in under 2 minutes. In order to understand the concept and apply it, the students had to understand three critical elements that must always be considered and mitigated when stabilizing a vehicle – gravity, center of gravity and momentum.
SUNDAY FUN-DAY OFFENSE
On Sunday morning all the components were put together. After a long day Saturday emphasizing defensive operations and the importance of defensive operations throughout the extrication process; the students were finally able to see the whole picture. The morning consisted of multiple stations where the students learned numerous techniques for extricating a victim from a vehicle. In addition to learning techniques, students were shown how to manipulate the tools and use proper technique to increase their efficiency and reduce their fatigue.
These stations included a full side removal with a B-post blowout, starting at the front and working toward the rear and starting at the rear of the vehicle working toward the front; a third door conversion on a two door vehicle; a no-cut dash lift also known as the dash-slash; and traditional dash lifts and tunneling techniques. Students learned how to perform these skills on roof resting and side resting vehicles. Once the morning session was complete the students were broken up into small groups and challenged with three final scenarios incorporating all of the skills learned.
THE GRAND FINALE
The capstone of the training consisted of three scenarios designed to challenge the students to assess and implement effective defensive and offensive operations which would to enable them to successfully gain access to the vehicle occupants. The three scenarios included an under-ride roof resting vehicle vs. a school bus; a two vehicle accident with one vehicle roof resting on top of the other vehicle which was also roof resting; and a scenario which required that the students perform what our instructors refer to as the “Rickshaw Maneuver”. This scenario involves a roof resting vehicle in a ditch where access to and through the sides of the vehicle is limited.
Once the students were briefed on the three final scenarios and assigned to working groups, they stepped into action! The scenarios presented difficult challenges which required good communication and leadership. The students’ first step was to determine “what do we have?” This required that the students assess the physical condition of the vehicles and any and all associated stabilization issues such as controlling forward, backward, rolling and pivoting movement, stopping the crush and determining the number of occupants and their locations. The second step was to determine “what do we need”? This required the students to determine if they needed additional equipment and/or manpower. The third step required the students to determine “what are we going to do?” For example, are we just stopping the crush and stabilizing the vehicles, or do we have to lift one of the vehicles to gain access to the other? Once those decisions were made, the students needed to decide what additional offensive operations would be required – Simple door removal? Complete side removal? Tunneling through the rear of the vehicle? The last step required the students to clearly “communicate” the plan to ensure that the incident commander and all members of the group were on the same page.
Each group did an excellent job in all phases. The assessment process and skills taught during the weekend were discussed and implemented. Communication was good and plans of action were developed. It was apparent that all members of each group were on the same page and knew what their task was. Listening to and watching the students successfully apply what they had learned during the weekend was amazing.